After PM’s announcement, Govt braces up for BDC elections

Process may be set into motion after normalcy
Guv meets CEO, discusses preparations

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Aug 10: Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Address to the Nation called upon Governor Satya Pal Malik to expedite process for conduct of elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs) which hadn’t been held for decades together, the Governor today set the process in motion by discussing arrangements for the elections with Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Shailendra Kumar.
Kumar, who happens to be the Election Authority for conduct of Panchayat, Municipalities and BDC elections in absence of the State Election Commission, briefed the Governor about requirements of the Commission and arrangements to hold elections to 316 BDCs spread over Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
In his Address to the Nation on August 8, Modi had announced that elections to the Block Development Councils, which haven’t been held for decades, will now be held soon in J&K.
Constitution of the BDCs will be second-tier of Panchayats followed by elections to District Planning and Development Boards (DPDBs), which will complete three tiers of Panchayats for first time in the State.
Official sources told the Excelsior that formal process for conduct of the Block Development Council elections could be set into motion once the normalcy is restored in Jammu and Kashmir, where some districts still reeled under prohibitory orders since August 5 following abrogation of Article 370 and division of the State into two Union Territories.
Sources said the Governor today asked Shailendra Kumar to expedite the process of elections to the Block Development Councils.
Kumar apprised the Governor about the ongoing summary revision of the electoral rolls and activities of the State Election Commission for elections to the Block Development Councils.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on August 8, in which he stressed an early conduct of the elections, the Governor asked Kumar to expedite the process.
Malik emphasized on the importance of strengthening the democratic institutions at the grassroots level.
On March 9 this year, the State administration had decided to hold elections to the Block Development Councils. The State Administrative Council (SAC), which had met here under the chairmanship of the Governor, had given the approval after issuing the necessary notification in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer.
Section 27 of the J&K Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 1989, provides for the constitution of a Development Council for every block. Every council includes a Chairperson and other members.
The chairperson of the BDC is elected by the Electoral College comprising Panchs and Sarpanchs of the Panchayats falling within a block.
The objective of constituting the Block Development Councils was to establish the second-tier of Panchayati Raj Institutions for the implementation and monitoring of several Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
In 2012, Omar Abdullah Government’s decision to hold the elections was put off at the eleventh hour after differences with Congress over the issue of reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women. Few days back, the Rural Development Department, which was responsible for publication of Electoral College and making other arrangements for the BDC elections, had written to the CEO office on holding of the polls.
The Government had also announced 33 percent reservation for women besides Scheduled Castes as per their populations. Within the Women BDCs, some of the Councils will be reserved for SC Women. A total of 105 BDCs will be reserved for women.
“The second tier of Panchayats would be set up only in the Panchayats which have been fully constituted. In the areas where Panchayats couldn’t be established due to lack of quorum, the BDC elections can’t be held,” sources pointed out and noted that about 1057 Panchayats haven’t been constituted in Kashmir region due to lack of quorum.
Out of a total of 4483 Panchayats in the State, there were 2135 in Kashmir. As many as 1057 Panchayats couldn’t be constituted in the Valley for want of quorum, they said.
As per the Panchayati Raj Act of Jammu and Kashmir, there should be at least one Sarpanch and one Panch to form quorum for constitution of the Panchayats but in 1057 Panchayats, there was either Sarpanch or Panch and they couldn’t be constituted.
Sources said there will be no elections for second tier of Panchayats, which haven’t been constituted. The BDC elections in these Panchayats will be held only after election for vacant posts of Sarpanchs and Panchs are conducted, they added.